Castello del Valentino

UNESCO World Heritage

Suburban mansion and residence riverside of the court since the sixteenth century, the Castello del Valentino belongs to the serial site "Residences of Royal House of Savoy" inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997.

On the left bank of the river Po, south of Torino's walls, there was a settlement called the "Valentino". The estate was bought by the Duke of Savoy Emanuele Filiberto in 1564, after his taking possession of Torino later the Cateau-Cambrésis Treaty. The first works began upon commission of the Duke and of his successor Carlo Emanuele I. In 1619, after the wedding between the prince Vittorio Amedeo and Cristina di France, the palace became property of Cristina. The young princess commissioned the engineer Carlo di Castellamonte to re-designed the villa as maison de plaisance built on the model of French pavillon systéme. The drawings of early seventeenth century present an image of the palace facing to the Po, with a grand salon at the center of the symmetrical body ended by two high pavilions. The side of the river presents a forepart to show the symmetry of the entire composition. Towards the city, it was built a new double staircase at the entrance which led on to the loggia with direct access to the grand salon, at the centre of two flats. Amedeo di Castellamonte, after having working alongside his father Carlo on many royal architectural projects, was ready to succeed him in 1640; at the Valentino, he was able to follow the request of Cristina who became, after his husband died, the first Madama Reale In 1645-1646, the two courtyard pavilions were been completed and connected with two parallels wings with porticos and an exedra (a horseshoe shaped walkway which closed the courtyard), shot down in nineteenth century.

All the rooms on the ground floor were simply plastered, while magnificent decoration including elaborate stucco-works and paintings were done for the salons on the floor above. The artists were plasterers, painters and sculptors who came from Ticino and lake Lugano. The apartment in the south, called «Madama Reale», shows precious ornaments and gilded stucco-works completed by Isidoro Bianchi, who had already been involved in other Savoy architectural projects such as Rivoli and the palace in the city (now Royal Palace) and by his sons Pompeo and Francesco. In the five rooms and in the cabinet which made up the apartment for the prince Carlo Emanuele, towards Torino, there is a perfect harmony between the white stucco-works and paintings carried out by Alessandro Casella and his cousins Giacomo and Giovanni Andrea, then employed at Venaria Reale, and by Giovanni Paolo Recchi.

During the Napoleonic wars, the army took possession of the Valentino. In 1850, the transfer of property of the land to the Crown to the State led to set up a new public park, destined to the loisir of bourgeoisie, inaugurated in 1858 with the Esposizione Nazionale dei Prodotti di Industria approved by Camillo Benso di Cavour and prepared into the Castello del Valentino, restored by Luigi Tonta and Domenico Ferri. The terraces linking the pavilions were replaced, in historicist language, with two new large galleries, reversing the main facing towards the river and creating a new relationships between this area and the city. The project show the final transition from the idea of palace to the idea, nineteenth-century, of Castello. In 1861, at the Valentino started the first course of Regia Scuola di Applicazione per gli Ingegneri, now Politecnico di Torino.